Charles Dickens


"I did ask something of Miss Havisham, however, sir. I asked her to

give me some information relative to her adopted daughter, and she

gave me all she possessed."

"Did she?" said Mr. Jaggers, bending forward to look at his boots

and then straightening himself. "Hah! I don't think I should have

done so, if I had been Miss Havisham. But she ought to know her own

business best."

"I know more of the history of Miss Havisham's adopted child, than

Miss Havisham herself does, sir. I know her mother."

Mr. Jaggers looked at me inquiringly, and repeated "Mother?"

"I have seen her mother within these three days."

"Yes?" said Mr. Jaggers.

"And so have you, sir. And you have seen her still more recently."

"Yes?" said Mr. Jaggers.

"Perhaps I know more of Estella's history than even you do," said

I. "I know her father too."

A certain stop that Mr. Jaggers came to in his manner - he was too

self-possessed to change his manner, but he could not help its

being brought to an indefinably attentive stop - assured me that he

did not know who her father was. This I had strongly suspected from

Provis's account (as Herbert had repeated it) of his having kept

himself dark; which I pieced on to the fact that he himself was not

Mr. Jaggers's client until some four years later, and when he could

have no reason for claiming his identity. But, I could not be sure

of this unconsciousness on Mr. Jaggers's part before, though I was

quite sure of it now.

"So! You know the young lady's father, Pip?" said Mr. Jaggers.

"Yes," I replied, "and his name is Provis - from New South Wales."

Even Mr. Jaggers started when I said those words. It was the

slightest start that could escape a man, the most carefully

repressed and the soonest checked, but he did start, though he made

it a part of the action of taking out his pocket-handkerchief. How

Wemmick received the announcement I am unable to say, for I was

afraid to look at him just then, lest Mr. Jaggers's sharpness should

detect that there had been some communication unknown to him

between us.

"And on what evidence, Pip," asked Mr. Jaggers, very coolly, as he

paused with his handkerchief half way to his nose, "does Provis

make this claim?"

"He does not make it," said I, "and has never made it, and has no

knowledge or belief that his daughter is in existence."

For once, the powerful pocket-handkerchief failed. My reply was so

unexpected that Mr. Jaggers put the handkerchief back into his

pocket without completing the usual performance, folded his arms,

and looked with stern attention at me, though with an immovable


Then I told him all I knew, and how I knew it; with the one

reservation that I left him to infer that I knew from Miss Havisham

what I in fact knew from Wemmick. I was very careful indeed as to

that. Nor, did I look towards Wemmick until I had finished all I

had to tell, and had been for some time silently meeting Mr.

Jaggers's look. When I did at last turn my eyes in Wemmick's

direction, I found that he had unposted his pen, and was intent

upon the table before him.

"Hah!" said Mr. Jaggers at last, as he moved towards the papers on

the table, " - What item was it you were at, Wemmick, when Mr. Pip

came in?"

But I could not submit to be thrown off in that way, and I made a

passionate, almost an indignant, appeal to him to be more frank and

manly with me. I reminded him of the false hopes into which I had

lapsed, the length of time they had lasted, and the discovery I had

made: and I hinted at the danger that weighed upon my spirits. I

represented myself as being surely worthy of some little confidence

from him, in return for the confidence I had just now imparted. I

said that I did not blame him, or suspect him, or mistrust him, but

I wanted assurance of the truth from him. And if he asked me why I

wanted it and why I thought I had any right to it, I would tell

him, little as he cared for such poor dreams, that I had loved

Estella dearly and long, and that, although I had lost her and must

live a bereaved life, whatever concerned her was still nearer and

dearer to me than anything else in the world.